'Ignored' come out in force

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Last week’s health forum at NUI Galway heard that our senior generation are an ‘ignored demographic’ who have a valuable role to play in society, writes LORNA SIGGINS

THE SENIOR generation should be seen as a “demographic bounty” who can contribute an enormous amount to society, the Irish Times /Pfizer Health Forum heard at NUI Galway last week.

Serious inadequacies in supporting the health needs of the elderly, along with deficiencies in the Government’s Fair Deal scheme for financing nursing-home care, were also highlighted at the forum, which was attended by several hundred people.

The meeting, on the theme of “the ignored demographic – older people in Ireland”, was chaired by Irish Times assistant editor Fintan O’Toole. The panellists were Minister of State for Older People Áine Brady, Merlin Park Hospital consultant in geriatric medicine Dr Shaun O’Keeffe, Age Action chief executive Robin Webster, and Active Retirement chief executive Maureen Kavanagh.

Introducing the discussion, O’Toole said the subject was a “rubric under which a vast number of very important topics gather”, and he referred to the “moving” television interview with Michael Noonan on RTÉ’s The Frontline , broadcast on May 31st, where the former Fine Gael leader spoke about coping with his wife’s Alzheimer’s.


Report notes malnutrition

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The UCD Institute of Food and Health has today issued a report that it says highlights the threat of malnutrition to the over 65s in Ireland.

The report is published one year from a pan-European agreement, the Prague Declaration, on tackling malnutrition, which is estimated to cost Ireland €1.5 billion annually – 10 per cent of the entire health care budget.

The assessment notes Ireland signed up to the Prague Declaration but warns appreciation of malnutrition’s potential threat remains "dismally low" in Ireland.

Commenting, Prof Mike Gibney, director of the UCD Institute for Food and Health, said: "There have been very few studies in Ireland, despite the overwhelming evidence from the UK and internationally that it is a massive and very costly problem.

"As a result, it remains significantly under-recognised, under-detected and under-treated in older people, and is often seen as an inevitable consequence of ageing, which it is not.

"Malnutrition is eminently treatable in the vast majority of cases, but success depends on picking up those at risk early, and treating them without delay," he said.


HSE submits draft home help guidelines

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The HSE was expected to have submitted guidelines around the implementation and delivery of homecare help to the Department of Health at the end of last week for approval as it moves to introduce uniform standards.

The Department and HSE faced criticism for a lack of consistency around the area of home helps and homecare packages following recent coverage by RTÉ’s Prime Time Investigates programme focusing on the daily struggle facing 44,000 people living in Ireland with Alzheimer's disease.

HSE Assistant National Director for Older Persons Mr Noel Mulvihill told IMN last week that while funding for homecare packages has been increased from €55 million when the HSE introduced homecare packages in 2006 to €130 million and the HSE has been allocated another €211 million for home helpthis year, the HSE is addressing the lack of uniformity.

“There were two reports last year which highlighted inconsistencies. Whilst the money was being spent in the right area, it highlighted inconsistencies.

“We have guidelines now just formulated which are ready to go to the Department for Health just at the end of this week,” Mr Mulvihill said last week.


New facility for healthcare of elderly opened

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A €48 million facility for research into the healthcare of older people was opened this week.

The Centre of Excellence for Successful Ageing, located at St James’s Hospital, was launched by the Minister for Health, Mary Harney.

The Centre will combine prevention and clinical care, research and teaching. It will also provide innovative early diagnostic and rapid access ambulatory care clinics and use modern information technology systems to promote wellness and independent living in the community.

It is envisaged that the Centre will provide leadership in gerontology at both national and international levels and will become fully integrated with the surrounding community, allowing new models of health and social care to be developed and tested in collaboration with primary care.

The Centre is partnered with research groups from Intel and General Electric and houses the TRIL (Technology Research for Independent Living) Clinic.

75-84 age group use 20% of all bed days

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MORE than one in five bed days in Irish hospitals are being used by patients aged between 75 and 84, despite the group accounting for just one in 10 of total patient numbers.

Latest figures on the state of the health service show that there continues to be a significant difference between the usage of hospitals by certain groups in society.

According to the figures, detailed in the hospital in-patients enquiry (HIPE) study for 2008 conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the 55-64 year age group had the highest patient volume of any cohort in the country in 2008, at 20.4%.

In addition, the 25-34 year group was the subject of the most in-patient treatments during the period, at 18.4%.

However, despite these figures, the most elderly people in society continued to be the largest group in terms of the number of day patient and in-patient bed days in Irish hospitals, underlining the need for improved step-down facilities for patients who could be discharged earlier.


Family Caring in Ireland

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Family Caring in Ireland

May 2010
This report is intended for use by those with an interest in Family Carer issues in Ireland. Click here to read...

Report shows employers can benefit

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Agesim can be a barrier to organisations benefiting from wisdom and late-life creativity, writes JAMIE SMYTH , Social Affairs Correspondent

OLDER WORKERS are an increasingly important resource for employers, who can benefit from the “late-life creativity” and wisdom they bring to their work. But they face many barriers to employment that reflect ageism in society, according to a new report entitled Ageing, the Demographic Dividend and Work.

“It is a sign of an ageist society that we nearly always assume that cognitive changes with ageing are all negative – in fact late-life creativity reminds us that there are positive cognitive changes with ageing – wisdom, strategic thinking, reasoning,” says the report by Prof Desmond O’Neill, Centre of Ageing, Neuroscience and the Humanities at Tallaght hospital.

Prof O’Neill highlights several masterpieces by artists and composers such as Matisse, Monet and Handel, which were completed in old age to demonstrate the concept of late-life creativity. He says societies with a high proportion of older people maintain and support


One in five carers find role ‘soul destroying’

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HUGE gaps in care services for people with dementia are leaving an army of carers at breaking point, with one in five describing their role as "soul destroying".

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Revealing the findings of a survey, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) has called on the Government to make dementia an immediate national health priority and prevent a deepening crisis from developing further.

There are 44,000 people with dementia in Ireland, but the number is expected to more than double to 104,000 by 2036.

The findings of the survey include:

* Three out of four carers care for loved ones more than eight hours a day, half spending 16 hours or more.

* One in three rarely or never get a break from caring, with one in 20 feeling completely alone in caring for their loved one.


Helpline for the elderly

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A HELPLINE for the elderly has extended its hours in order to assist pensioners who are calling for advice in ever increasing numbers.

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Senior Helpline is a national confidential listening service for older people run by trained older volunteers.

The service is a national programme developed and administered by the Third Age Foundation, a community organisation working for the empowerment of older people, based in Summerhill, Co Meath.

The extended hours have been made possible by the opening of a new centre in Naas, Co Kildare, and the commitment of Co Wexford volunteers who have taken on extra hours.

Senior Helpline has seen a consistent increase in caller volumes since its opening more than 10 years ago. Last year the helpline received in excess of 13,000 calls from older people all over Ireland.


Proposals to cut length of home help tasks

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IRISH NURSES AND MIDWIVES ORGANISATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE: HOME HELPS will be able to spend no more than 10 minutes getting older people up and dressed in the morning and 15 minutes assisting them showering under Health Service Executive (HSE) proposals, the nurses’ conference heard yesterday.

The proposals have been drawn up by the HSE to cut down on the cost of home-help services.

Under the plan, now in draft form, the number of home help hours a patient will be entitled to will also be cut to a maximum of 7.5 a week, which can only be availed of Monday to Friday during office hours. The service would be restricted to medical card holders and home helps would be restricted to providing personal care for clients rather than also helping with house cleaning.

Nurses attending the second day of the conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation in Trim condemned the move.


Advocating for elderly patients

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Tuesday, 22 June 2010 10:38
HSE Assistant National Director for Older Persons Mr Noel Mulvihill tells Lloyd Mudiwa about how the HSE is reorientating older persons services.

The whole essence of the new role of Assistant National Director for Older Persons in the HSE is to have an oversight of the management and delivery of older persons services throughout the country.

Mr Noel Mulvihill, who was appointed the inaugural Assistant National Director for Older Persons in October last year, said the role is predominantly concerned that the HSE takes a consistent approach in the delivery of services throughout each of the four regions.

“My instructions are to ensure that whether you are in Roscommon or whether you are in Dublin that you have a knowledge of and receive a consistent service,” he commented.


HSE publishes Elder Abuse Report 2009‏

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Over 1,800 cases of elder abuse

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Elderly people reported more than 1,800 allegations of abuse to the HSE last year, almost half of which were against their children.

A breakdown of the 1,870 referrals to HSE’s Elder Abuse Services shows self-neglect was recorded in 435 cases. In the remaining 1,435 cases, psychological abuse was the most common hardship at 34 per cent, followed by financial abuse (22 per cent), neglect (20 per cent) and physical abuse 14 per cent.

There was an increase of some 2 per cent in the number of cases reported when compared to 2008.

The figures show that those with a close relationship to the abused are the most likely perpetrators, with sons and daughters accounting for 46 per cent of the allegations, followed by other relatives at 20 per cent and partners, husbands or spouses at 18 per cent.


Comfort Keepers & Special Olympics 2010

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Comfort Keepers & Special Olympics 2010 - NewsTalk 106-108fm - Click here

Comfort Keepers NewsTalk

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Comfort Keepers - Stay Happy at Home - NewsTalk 106-108fm - Click here

Helpline for the elderly to extend its hours

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Monday, May 10, 2010
by Olivia Kelleher

A HELPLINE for the elderly has extended its hours in order to assist pensioners who are calling for advice in ever increasing numbers.

Senior Helpline is a national confidential listening service for older people run by trained older volunteers.

The service is a national programme developed and administered by the Third Age Foundation, a community organisation working for the empowerment of older people, based in Summerhill, Co Meath.

The extended hours have been made possible by the opening of a new centre in Naas, Co Kildare, and the commitment of Co Wexford volunteers who have taken on extra hours.


HIQA report critical of nursing home

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Friday, 21 May 2010 22:19

The Health Service Executive's Loughloe House nursing home in Athlone lacks strong governance, is short-staffed and has poor hygiene standards, according to an independent inspection report.

The Health Information and Quality Authority report, published today, found an overreliance on agency nurses and visible soiled surfaces throughout the home.

It also reveals that some residents were only taken out of bed on alternate days.

The HIQA report says the welfare of residents was not protected and that management could not confirm if staff were garda vetted.

A complaint of theft was not documented or investigated,


Older people in rural areas more fearful

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The Irish Times - Friday, May 14, 2010
SEÁN Mac CONNELL in Killala

THERE IS a heightened sense of fear among older rural residents because of the lack of policing services, particularly at night.

The Irish Rural Link conference was told more than 13,000 older people called a low-cost helpline over the last year, which was set up to deal with all types of inquiries from elderly rural people. The helpline operates 365 days a year.

“Loneliness, financial and pension worries, as well as anxiety regarding economic difficulties being experienced by adult children, were among the reasons the calls were made,” said the organisation’s policy and communications officer, Seán O’Leary.

He told the delegates at the conference in Killala, Co Mayo, yesterday, emigration and limited job


Fair Deal hit by processing delays

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The Irish Times - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The much vaunted ‘Fair Deal’, introduced last October, was supposed to herald a new era in nursing home care support, but six months into its implementation, how is it faring?

THE MAIN feature of the Fair Deal, which replaces the old system of public nursing home charges and the private nursing home subvention scheme, is that while the State is continuing to fund the largest part of care costs overall, individuals are also being asked to contribute towards the cost of their long-term care. To participate in the scheme, and thereby get access to public or private nursing homes, long-term residents must contribute 80 per cent of their income, in addition to a percentage of their non-cash assets and property, which will be put towards costs such as bed and board, and nursing and personal


Spouses of dementia sufferers also at risk

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By Jane Kirby in London
Wednesday May 05 2010

SPOUSES of people with dementia are six times more likely to develop the condition themselves, new research suggests.

Stress and depression linked with watching a spouse deteriorate could increase the risk of dementia, according to the study on 1,221 married couples.

Husbands also appear to be at higher risk than wives although this could be down to chance, researchers said.

Experts from Utah State University in the US analysed data from couples where dementia was present and compared it with couples where dementia did not develop.

More than 200 people were diagnosed with dementia


Informal Carers, Who Takes Care Of Them?

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30 Apr 2010
Medical News Today

Until recently, informal care (provided by relatives and friends) has been overlooked by policy-mak­ers in the context of long-term care for dependent older people. Driven by concerns about the fiscal sustainability of long-term care servic­es and by more self-conscious and demanding carers' movements across countries, informal care has been brought into the limelight. Data on carers is still relatively scarce due in part to the nature of the care itself as it is often provided informally at home. In view of this, what do we know about informal carers and who benefits from them? Which country differences exist? Which policies are set in place to support them? This Policy Brief tries to shed light on these issues by using available data from (inter)national sources as well as qualitative information gathered in our recent publication "Facts and Figures on Long-term Care


Levels of undetected dementia 'high'

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The Irish Times - Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Study calls for ongoing assessment of nursing home residents to increase awareness of the condition

A NEW study has revealed an unexpectedly high level of undetected dementia and cognitive impairment at nursing homes in the Dublin area and recommends the ongoing assessment of residents in such facilities.

Researchers found that 89 per cent of residents surveyed were cognitively impaired, 42 per cent severely and 27 per cent moderately – a much higher prevalence than previously reported.

The study was published recently in the international journal, Age and Ageing , and was supported by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies.


Family carers experience 'sense of guilt'

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The Irish Times - Tuesday,
April 27, 2010

FAMILY CARERS often feel a huge sense of guilt and betrayal when they admit a loved one into residential care, according to new research.

While carers who found it difficult to meet the needs of their relative at home sometimes experienced relief at first, it was often accompanied by more painful emotions including guilt, bereavement and loneliness.

These feelings were particularly acute among spouse carers who had to adjust to the challenge of living without their partner at home.

The findings are contained in a report, commissioned


Care found wanting

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The Irish Times
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Hiqa report has found residents in one nursing home had no access to water and there were no meaningful activities organised for them, writes JAMIE SMYTH

A NURSING HOME in Dublin has been ordered to improve the standard of care it provides to patients following an inspection, which found that a number of elderly residents had "dry mouths and cracked tongues" due to a failure to provide access to fluids.

A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) also found that staff at St Pappin's Nursing Home in Ballymun were not engaging in a meaningful way with residents. They were also not managing properly those


HSE takes over running of nursing home

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Thursday April 01 2010

A private nursing home in Co Wicklow has been taken over by HSE staff after inspectors found the health and welfare of elderly residents was at risk.

The HSE staff moved into the Glenbervie nursing home in Bray on Tuesday morning after a court order was obtained to take charge of the facility where 27 residents live.

The residents, several of whom have been there for a number of years, now face the trauma of being transferred to another home in the coming weeks.

The move was taken by the the patient safety


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